Cox Automotive Releases May Vehicle Sales Forecast

Sales pace for May is expected to hit 15.8 million...

Cox Automotive forecasts that May’s new-vehicle sales will show improvement over last year, driven by  increased inventory levels leading to more appealing incentives. However, vehicle affordability issues, driven by high interest rates and elevated new-vehicle prices, continue to weigh negatively on sales, as typical monthly payments for new-vehicle loans are above $750.

Cox Automotive Releases May Vehicle Sales Forecast | THE SHOP

The seasonally adjusted annual rate SAAR, or sales pace, in May is forecast to finish near 15.8 million, up from last May’s 15.5 million level and a modest uptick from last month’s 15.7 million pace. Sales volume is expected to rise 3.5% over last year and 6.4% above last month. There are 26 selling days this May, one more than last year and last month.

At the start of May, new-vehicle inventory was at 2.84 million units, 51% above year-ago levels and the highest point since late 2020. But prices have barely budged compared to the same time in 2023. Meanwhile, incentives are running nearly twice the level seen a year ago.

Cox Automotive Releases May Vehicle Sales Forecast | THE SHOP
All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate.

“Sales in May generally improve over April as nice weather brings more shoppers out to dealer lots. Memorial Day weekend often sees many low-price promotions from manufacturers as they try to build strong sales momentum for the summer season. With high inventory levels for several brands, we expect shoppers to see many aggressive offers this year,” said Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough. 

Pat Curtin

Pat Curtin is the managing editor of THE SHOP magazine.

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